tv Melissa Harris- Perry MSNBC September 14, 2013 10:00am-12:00pm EDT
♪ when you think about it, isn't that what retirement should be, paying ourselves to do what we love? ♪ this morning, my question -- who did the gun lobby take down this week? plus -- the new republican plan to let millions go hungry. and the one group of people whose life expectancy is on the climb. first, a major breakthrough in the showdown over syria. good morning. i'm melissa harris-perry. we have news to bring you this morning of a major development in the standoff over syria. a deal reached in geneva, switzerland, after three days of negotiations between the united states and russia on how to
eliminate syria's stash of chemical weapons. calls for inspectors on on the ground by november. and all of syria's weapons to be destroyed or removed by mid-2014. and syria's president bashar al assad has to submit to a comprehensive report of all of his regime's chemical weapons stockpiles within a week. secretary of state john kerry made clear this morning that he believes that plan will work. but only if the syrian regime cooperates fully. >> in the case of the assad regime, president reagan's old adage about trust but verify. [ speaking latin ] that is a need of an update, and we have committed here to a standard that says verify and verify. there can be no games, no room for avoidance or anything less than full compliance by the assad regime.
>> while there is nothing in the framework that threatens military action if syria doesn't comply, the agreement does open up the possibility of united nations security council action for any violations. be the united states has made clear all along and as president obama reiterated in his weekly address this morning, the united states reserves the right to act. >> we are not just going to take russia and assad's word for it. we need to see concrete actions to demonstrate that assad is serious about giving up his chemical weapons. since this plan emerged only with a credible threat of u.s. military action, we will maintain our military posture in the region to keep the pressure on the assad regime. and if diplomacy fails, the united states and the international community must remain prepared to act. >> representatives from the united states, britain, and france will gather in paris this monday to discuss approval and implementation of the deal. but the most important player
remains syria, and is a question mark. ian williams is live for us in geneva this morning. what is the latest? >> reporter: hello, melissa. well, this is an incredibly ambitious agreement. one u.s. official briefing after that press conference saying it was daunting to say the least. the first test will come at the end of next week. that's the deadline by which the syrian regime is obliged under this agreement to come up with a list of all its chemical weapons, all the materials and the site where is these are being made. now, under the -- an assessment made by the two sides today there are, they reckon, a thousand metric tons of chemical weapons in 45 different sites. so incredibly ambitious. then of course we've got this november deadline for unfettered access by inspectors and the deadline of the middle of next year for this whole process to be complete. but kerry making clear that if this roadmap, as he put it, was fully implemented, it could lead
to the -- would lead to the eradication of chemical weapons and indeed perhaps be the first step towards a meaningful diplomatic solution here, melissa. >> have we heard yet an important response from the international community? obviously president obama paused at the brink, not only opened this to the democratic process here in the united states with our congress but also now has drawn in the international community. what responses have we had from that community? >> we've already seen the british welcome this. we'll hear more from them and more from the french and the saudis on monday when they gather with harry in paris. but of course the key player in all this, the syrians, and sergey lavrov, the -- kerr rice counterpart from russia, made it clear today he had not been in contact with them, so he says, d urg this whole three-day marathon negotiation. of course the key test now is precisely how syria responds to what is a pretty aggressive time line, melissa. >> let me ask you this, also.
of course the question of the u.n. security council and russia's veto vote there has been important. what about china? is there a reason to believe that china will be on board with these new sort of rules? >> r. >> reporter: i think so. china has always been pretty low key with its diplomacy, and that's been the case with this as well, coming out against military action but also saying it believed in the eradication of chemical weapons. my sense is that a security council resolution that codifies what we've seen today and implies sanctions or some action if the syrian regime doesn't fully comply but falls short of spelling that out because the russians won't go along with a clear military threat. beneath ler the chine-- neither chinese. there is a wider agenda with iran next door with north korea.
if this actually worked it would be an incredibly important precedent for the elimination of chemical weapons, the syrians having one of the world's biggest stockpiles we believe, melissa. >> thank you, ian williams, live in geneva. and in fact as ian just talked about there, if removal of syria's chemical weapons stockpile is the end-all of this deal, we want to take just a moment to look at what information we have on just what that stockpile is. the syrian regime has more than 1,000 tons of chemical weapons according to french government estimates. the stockpile is believed to include nerve agents like sarin and blistering agents like mustard gas. this morning secretary of state john kerry said that the u.s. and russia had agreed on the size of the stockpile did not elaborate. >> we have reached a shared assessment of the amount and type of chemical weapons possessed by the assad regime. and we are committed to the
rapid assumption of control by the international community of those weapons. >> the white house says that it monitors the stockpile closely and has been for two years. senior administration officials told reporters yesterday that the u.s. has a handle on where they are but did not confirm nor deny reports that president bashar al assad has been moving the weapons in recent weeks. before this week, assad's government has never admitted to even having chemical weapons. the syrian stockpile is among the biggest in the world. most country, including the u.s., are committed to destroying their chemical weapons. the u.s. last year finished destroying about 90% of its 30,000 tons of chemical weapons, a process that began more than 25 years ago. joining me now live from washington, d.c., is raymond tanlter, who served on the senior staff of the national security council in the reagan administration. thanks for joining us this morning. >> my pleasure. >> let me ask this.
obviously part of what the obama administration has been talking about over the past few weeks is the question of sending an international message against the use of chemical weapons and claiming in part that military strikes may need to be part of that. is this solution a sufficient one in terms of sending an international message about chemical weapons? >> melissa, secretary kerry referred to a president reagan adage, but president reagan used to tell me when i worked for him that when you're in a hole, stop digging. what president obama has done is to stop digging the hole. in fact, pulled president putin in with him. president putin has a tremendous amount to lose if he can't deliver his ally, president assad. so i see a situation where the two men have stopped digging and come together with some kind of an accord. but, melissa, the devil is in the details. most assuredly as so as ian has
said in this setup piece. >> in fact, in those detail, how sfeezable do you think it is to get a full accounting of and to totally destroy syria's chemical weapons in less than a year? as i just pointed out, the u.s. has been on this path for more than two decades. >> well, if it becomes an accounting situation, this will go on and on. at issue, melissa, is whether or not the united states can ramp up the four or five destroyers in the mediterranean that are now taking off alert and get some kind of an -- some kind of an authorization of congress and the american people to get the military action back on the table. i doubt whether president obama can go without the u.n., without the american people, without the congress on board, melissa. >> i mean, i think it seems clear that the president also thinks that he either can't or should not go without that sort of multilateral coalition. seems like that's part of what's been going on here. but do you think this agreement
secretary kerry seems to have reached here will, in fact, bring those other players on board? >> the agreement is a godsend for president obama right now. at issue is whether or not iran will cooperate and try to undercut the agreement that the russians and the americans have put forward. if iran lays back, then i suspect that this agreement can start. if the agreement begins to fail, at issue then, he me lis san jose sharks will be whether president obama will try to get the military stick back on with the promise -- the carrots that are on the table right now. >> that question of the stick and the carrot in international diplomacy is always the challenge. thank you so much for joining us this morning. raymond tanter. >> my pleasure. >> thank you. stay right there, because after the break, we're going to talk the politics of this extraordinary new development this morning. how president obama's leadership style brings us to a most unexpected place. [ school bell rings ]
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the nation woke this morning to news of a potential diplomatic solution to the syria crisis. with this news will come not only a 'readjustment of global positions but reassessment of the domestic republican leadership that brought us here. should president obama be praised or derided for his handling of this crisis? when he was elected in 2008, he promised a more thoughtful, deliberate style of leadership, he would not lead us into what he called dumb wars. but until now, the president's foreign policy was marked more by brute force than deliberation, the assassination of osama bin laden, the secret kill list, the unilateral drone stri strikes. but now we've seen what it looks like when president obama deliberates. over the past week many claim he wasn't lead, he was flailing. when he stepped into the rose guard twon weeks ago, we all
expected him to announce strikes were imminent or under way. but then the breaks. the president said he would wait for congress to decide. p vote was expected this past week, but then president obama called for another pause as congressional leaders struggled to cobble together enough votes and secretary of state john kerry tried to gauge how serious russia was in its offer to put syria's chemical weapons under international control and eventually destroy them. then this morning the news this may have worked. after a week of being called weak, flaccid, and not the master of the situation, does this change our assessment of the president? joining me now, ed hussein, senior fellow for middle eastern study, the council on foreign relations, kay ten dawson, consultant and former senior adviser to governor rick perry. doreen mourn, columbia university, and dr. nina kusheva, associate professor in the graduate program and senior fellow at the world policy institute, the great
granddaughter of nikita kruschev. i want to start with you, nina. in part this question of whether or not what we have seen here is, is strong leadership, good leadership by the president or just lucky so far where we've ended up. >> i think what we've seen now is a political process which is not good or bad on its face. the problem i think is that there's a lot of rhetoric around that process, and for politics it's way too much rhetoric, especially with some complex sides involved in this conversation. so i wouldn't even judge barack obama's policy so much. however, i would very much judge his foreign policy advisers in those who write those speeches without thinking what the next -- the next could bring. that's where they ale rheally failed. they failed on communication probably much more than on policy. >> the red line was initially sort of a one-off. right? the president was in a back and forth exchange when he made the
red line point about chemical weapons. but he's gone on to try to make a claim that, in fact, chemical weapons are something that we need to draw a red line. is this, do you think, doreen, a sufficient red line, this agreement? >> i think it is, and i think it's one where not only do we win many the u.s. but the world wins. i've been thinking the last few weeks that syria and any military action in syria would be president obama's lbj moment. >> and not a good lbj moment. >> this would be similar to v t vietn vietnam. what i think we've seen is his jfk moment, people around him that can deliberate and making the deliberation process partly public to say, okay, let's look at all the options on the table. i don't think it was an accident, frankly, that secretary of state kerry said that seemingly off-the-cuff remark. i intend to think that was discussed and clearly an option that had been discussed and put on the table in their private deliberations. i don't think it was an accident that all of a sudden that came out. i think it was part of a long
process of deliberation that we've all been witness to here. >> we were making sports metaphors earlier. my friend and colleague earlier september an e-mail saying this is like the cold war crossover, right? kind of a basketball claim that the president had head faked and in fact has demonstrated the capacity to do something surprising here. why is it my bet you probably don't see this as a moment of great presidential leadership? >> the whole thing has seemed very clumsy to me. not that well orchestrated. the advisers, whether it be the pentagon or the joint chief, a lot of confusion. the only thing that i can say that made i think republicans pause is the fact you had john kerry, joe biden and barack obama who in their current positions or the information they have at their fingertips probably wouldn't be in this position of threatening war. and that made me think that, you know, i don't need to know -- i don't need to know everything the president knows or the people know but for them to be advocating military strike to me
said there's something here i'm not getting because they normally would not be here. >> that's an interesting point that john kerry as someone who's taken very clear anti-war positions, the president as someone who's set himself certainly not as a dove but with dere strapt around the question of war, when they make the claim it implies there is something underneath that maybe hawks making that claim wouldn't be -- >> and the political ramifications here, fast forward a little bit, not to be hypothetical, the president didn't define what a win was at first and the american public is war weary. we've got the midterms coming up, but the president doesn't have to stand for election today so he's doing what he thinks is right. so in the meantime of this, the numbers aren't there for war, we're war weary right now, let's fast forward. now they've defined the win as getting rid of chemical weapons. here's the bad news. the assad regime, a brutal dictator, is now attacking hospitals and schools. so this isn't going to be the end win. >> he's been doing that all
along. that doesn't minimize, i think, the impact of the deliberations that the president of the united states put in place. i say that because there's a perception in the middle east over the last 8 to 10 years that the united states is too trigger happy, a cowboy nation not prepared to put diplomacy and thought and caveat and the political process in place. what we've seen is, i mean, yes, putin wrote this op-ed in "the new york times" on thursday. something else happened on thursday and that was al zawahiri spoke. ayman al zawahiri, current leader of al qaeda, there was no consideration in his hour and a half long speech that the united states was in any way weak. if you think the president is weak, ask the people on whom drone attacks have been lobbied in yemen or pakistan or ask osama bin laden, who's no longer alive. so there is that consideration i think that people in the region don't think that the united states or the president is weak. in fact, he is within his ability and realm to act but he has not. he has said that he will act if
he needs to but he wants to ask not only the u.s. congress but create an international conversation. and this outcome this morning is a direct result of that conversation. so i think in the long term when history is written, i don't think this will be a moment of weakness but a moment of intelligence, strength, and depth. >> i want to pick up on exactly that as soon as we come back, and particularly on this putin op-ed and what it says about sort of what america's place is in the international community and how the president is taking this. ♪
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ron: i'm sorry, who are you? jc: i'm your coworker! c'mon guys, i'm driving. jc: you guys comfortable? it's best-in-class rear legroom. jim: do you work for volkswagen? jc: what? no. i work for... the company we all work for. the place we just left. you know j.d. power ranked passat the most appealing midsize car two years in a row? i bet uh dan here wishes someone found him most appealing two years in a row. ron: it's ron. jc: ron... exactly. the irony of the deal announced today is it stems from cooperation between the u.s. and russia, a relationship that has been tense, to say the least, over syria and edward snowden and human rights and a lot of other things. russian president vladimir putin even took to "the new york times" this week to passively aggressively needle president obama for his talk of american exceptionalism. >> when with modest effort and
risk we can stop children from being gassed to death and thereby make our own children safer over the long run, i believe we should act. that's what makes america different. that's what makes us exceptional. with humility but with resol let us never lose sight of that essential truth. >> in response, putin wrote in "the times," "i would rather disagree with a case he made on american exceptionalism. it is extremely dak rouse to encourage people to see themselves as exceptional whatever the motivation." thank you for your valuable input there, vlad. the concept of american exceptional, that america is fundamentally different, is widely attributed. but the phrase was coined by none other than soviet dictator joseph stalin in who in 1929 condemned the heresy of american exceptionalism when confronted with a report that american workers would never revolt against the capitalist class because they were different, they loved money and tolerated
inequality like no other working class in the world. you see, even if you didn't mean it as a compliment, russian leaders have been talking about american exceptional for nearly a century. so is this sort of tit for tat between putin and obama finally resolved in this moment over syria? >> yes, it is. well, first of all, i want to say that stalin simply quoted -- stalin was an educated man. he knew exactly where america stands. he also know what is he was talking about and knew and so does putin because russia also considers itself an exceptionalist nation. so that was kind of battles of propaganda, we're going to accuse you of something we ourselves believe but also in smaller manner, and putin is a rather small man, although it does seem that was a victory for him right now, is that it was a payback for obama's comment on putin being a socialist slouch,
bored kid at the back of the room. and that was sort of slightly an elegant but -- and also very lofty way of getting back at him. that's where putin lost his point because once it's become a personal revenge, that's it. >> there was an interesting set of claims up until that point in the context of the op-ed itself where he makes some claims about i remember law, about the role of the u.n. >> i realize it's right to mock him for all the right reasons. there were a couple points made pondering. one was the rise of extremism and terrorism inside syria and the blowback from that. in other words, terrorists trained inside syria in the tens of thousands on r now returning or will return to europe or other countries. therefore we will see terrorism in those countries. is this something that we want to see, encourage, and therefore live with? that's an important question he raises and i think that's worth paying attention to. the second one is, of course, consequences for international
law. but i think he was absolutely wrong on the question of american exceptionalism simply because i don't think he understands this country, the fact that all of us can sit on this panel from divergent backgrounds is testament to american exceptionalism in a way that it doesn't happen in the soviet union. people like you and me would not be considered to be russians, you know, to kingdom come just because of the way the russian historic, ethnic, and racial composition -- and the same applies to other countries. i think there's a failure on his part as an individual to recognize what the united states is. but i would make one last point. i don't think he wrote that op-ed. he may have expressed few views to the pr phone that, i hate to say it, some americans sitting down writing it and submitting it to "the new york times," but i don't think he's of the linguistic or political caliber to -- >> i disagree with that. >> it actually sounded like him -- >> because putin has been making those arguments in the russian press forever, making those
arguments and speeches forever. now he got an international worldwide podium and that's what he -- but absolutely 80% of that is -- >> i want to listen for a moment to secretary kerry speaking on putin and then ask you a question behind that. let's listen far moment. >> i want to thank president putin for his willingness to pick up on the possibility of negotiating an end to syrian weapons of mass destruction. his willingness to embrace ideas for how to accomplish this goal and his willingness to send foreign minister lavrov here to pursue this effort was essential to getting to this point. >> so the president said part of what american exceptionalism will be is humility and resolve. and for secretary kerry, who sort of started this whole process with this very strong we're going to move whether the international community says so
we're not to stand there and say, man, putin, thank for all your help. i thought, we're practicing our humility this morning, aren't we. >> another interesting thing about the putin op-ed is there's nothing that would unify americans more around a divisive issue than putin writing in "the new york times," essentially insulting the president, and all of a sudden the american public says, whoa, wait a second, he just insulted our commander in chief. i think there's a reason why polls showed this week that the american public wouldn't punish their own members of congress if they voted to go to war. >> let me ask you this, because it seems to me, though, because there was all this language of the president is weak and he's rolling over for putin, that despite the fact that the russian leader takes to "the new york times," says these sorts of thing, some of which i think are very valuable sort of international discursive strategy, and some of which you guys say aren't that exceptional, the fact that the president and his administration say nonetheless, the big picture
is syria so we're going to continue to work with you, does feel like a certain kind of strength that maybe we hadn't seen, for example, from stay the course bush. like it's a different definition of strength, one that is more personally humble on that stage. >> let's put it back to the diner in kentucky. if we're going to put putin versus president obama, then the american plib's going to have president obama's back. >> sure. >> that's what we got out of it. i mean, there is a dislike for putin, a distrust of russia, and in electoral politics, the president just won on that op-ed because he called him out. when you called him out and called our leader out, that will unify both sides nap's the positive part of it. the negative part of it is this is a complete dialogue of what's happening in the middle east and the education of the voting american public of the chaos that's going, ed told me during the break, this chaos has been going for years and year, whether it be jordan, lebanon, iran, syria, and there's a
deeper fundamental thing we're having to address once we get past these chemical weapons. >> i want to talk as soon as we come back a little bit about another brinksmanship moment, the cuban missile crisis. try to figure out if there's something about that chemical weapons maybe we're getting whereon in our discussions. how that feels. copd includes emphysema and chronic bronchitis. spiriva is a once-daily inhaled copd maintenance treatment that helps open my obstructed airways for a full 24 hours. you know, spiriva helps me breathe easier. spiriva handihaler tiotropium bromide inhalation powder does not replace fast-acting inhalers for sudden symptoms. tell your doctor if you have kidney problems, glaucoma, trouble urinating, or an enlarged prostate. these may worsen with spiriva. discuss all medicines you take, even eye drops. stop taking spiriva and seek immediate medical help if your breathing suddenly worsens, your throat or tongue swells, you get hives, vision changes or eye pain, or problems passing urine. other side effects include dry mouth and constipation.
in october 1962, the world hovered on a brink of catastrophic proportions. the standoff between kennedy and soviet leader kruschev was a test of personal e egos, divergent national interests and precarious global power. the choices made by kennedy, kruschev and other international players in those tense days averted nuclear war. but even decades later the question of whether kennedy was strategically brilliant or blessedly lucky is not entirely settled. in his classic 1969 article
about the cuban missile crisis, a scholar write, "what each analyst sees and judges to be important is a function not only of the evidence about what happened but also of the conceptual lenses through which he looks at the evidence." indeed, as we seek to understand our president and his decisions in this current context of the debate over intervention in syria, our judgment of his actions are undoubtedly colored by the lenses we use to see them. what could we learn from the cuban missile crisis as we look at this syria question? >> i think your previous segment was exactly on that, when john kerry was speaking, whether he was a cop-out -- he actually sincerely diplomatally thanks president putin. i thought it was a very wise way to do it, because they were able to step from the brink, although it wasn't as much of a brink as the cuban missile crisis but brinky enough, and was able to step from the brink and actually deal with diplomacy and lenses at hand. i think that's the lesson of the cuban missile crisis because we
can interpret kruschev's behavior one way and kennedy's behavior another way and maybe they both copped out. there's a lot of articles and written who blinked first and what not. >> right. >> but i think the lesson is that ultimately policy is a moving target and they have to -- leaders have to keep in mind they have the country at hand and the constituents and the world at hand they are responsible for. i think the cuban missile crisis was great example of that, that as ambitious as both leaders were, they could trick eesm other, they actually stepped back and decided the that world war iii is really not worth the political ambition. that's the greatest lesson. >> that is exactly the lesson that i'm wondering if we're missing in the syria question. so let me just frame this. it feels to me like the basic conceptual lens we're working with is that leaders will only not use chemical weapons if there is a belt, if there is a stick, if there is threat of
war. but in fact aren't there -- i mean, i assume that the reason most leaders don't use chemical weapons is actually because the things that you have just laid out, because of a belief this-in the responsibility of constituency and of world leadership. i just wonder if we're still missing that aspect of it, that assad is outside of what the vast majority of world leaders will ever do. and we don't necessarily need -- or we need a different kind of red line to describe not using those sorts of weapons. >> assad is in a fight to the death. >> because of the civil war. >> exactly. if he doesn't kill, he will be killed. he's seen saddam hussein go before him. he's seen the libya leader killed in front of his own eyes so, to speak. but i think the cuban missile crisis teaches us something relevant here, and that's secre secrecy. both the u.s. president and the russian leader were in direct communication through secret channels, and the stand-down or
to put it in terms of the diplomatic solution that came about afterwards, was also in the sense that the u.s. agreed to pull back its his ls from turkey. >> years later before we knew that. >> and it was done quietly, secretly. if we turn that on its head, will asood use that to get rid of his chemical weapons, and libya, even though we thought they decommissioned their weapons, we found out they hadn't fully decommissioned their weapons. there is that secret advantage that sometimes -- in the case of the u.s. we use to the advantage of global peace, but that same thing of secrecy and retention could be reversed and used by the syrians in a way that's harmful. >> so kruschev and kennedy can make decisions in the context of the cuban missile crisis in part because they're not facing existential threat to their own leadership. the only existential threat is to the world community and the possibility of what that world war iii would have looked like. but this notion of secrecy
versus publicity -- these guys are fighting it out, putin and president obama, fighting it out in press conferences and "the new york times," not in direct one-to-one communication. >> that's where another political science concept comes in around the concept of expanding the scope of conflict. and in this case, we see president obama expanding the scope of conflict, bringing in other audiences. in the first instance the congress, which means the american people, but also at the same time the rest of the international community. and in many ways that is what the purpose of the united nations is, to expand the scope of conflict, so it's not just between the u.s. and syria but now it's between the u.s. and the rest of the world. and you isolate russia or you isolate china, but you try to mobilize global opinion. so you bring more people into the fight. >> yeah. >> to reach a peaceful solution in this case. >> so this is diplomacy that requires a level of publicity rather than those secret channels. >> rather than secrets. it's both operating at the same time. it's secrecy and publicity
operating at the same time. >> we could talk about that for a long time. thank you to ed hussein and dr. knee that kruscheva. thanks for joining us today. up next the headlines you have to see to believe. ♪ where have all the flowers gone ♪ my name is mike and i quit smoking. chantix... it's a non-nicotine pill. i didn't want nicotine to give up nicotine. [ male announcer ] along with support, chantix (varenicline) is proven to help people quit smoking. [ mike ] when i was taking the chantix, it reduced the urge to smoke. [ male announcer ] some people had changes in behavior, thinking or mood, hostility, agitation, depressed mood and suicidal thoughts or actions while taking or after stopping chantix. if you notice any of these, stop taking chantix and call your doctor right away. tell your doctor about any history of depression or other mental health problems, which could get worse while taking chantix. don't take chantix if you've had a serious allergic or skin reaction to it. if you develop these, stop taking chantix and see your doctor right away as some can be life-threatening.
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he was gunned down on august 16th by a group of teens, one of whom told the police, "we were bored and didn't have anything to do so we decided to kill somebody." more recently, this baby, london samuels was killed when she was struck by a bullet as hernanny carried her home from a park in new orleans. london was only a year old. while my hometown was still reeling a week later, another child in the city, 11-year-old arabian gales was shot and killed when gunmen began firing into her home. she was rocking her baby cousin to sleep when the bullet took her life. one week ago, 3-year-old ella marie tucker of idaho shot and killed herself with a handgun in yellowstone national park where, since 2010, visitors have been able to carry weapons legally. the little girl was the first gun death in yellowstone since 1978. in colorado, 18-year-old pri prima lal and two others were trying to prank a friend last week as her family's home by
leaping out of a closet. her prank surprised the friend, who grabbed the gun and sho her dead. in oklahoma, a grandmother, 73, told her husband melvin to put his gun down, he'd been drinking and had already shot at a tree stump. melvin then pointed the gun at her. he told authorities he wanted to play a joke on his wife. he pulled the trigger, shot her in the stomach, and killed her. i just want to stop reading. i want to pretend that these senseless deaths are not happening. but we have to face these realities because the gun lobby does not rest even as americans lose their lives to gun violence. this week we saw two americans lose their jobs to gun politics. and that's next. t be my favorite. [ female announcer ] welcome to the new aarp. we're ready to help you rediscover purpose and passion with programs like life reimagined to inspire you and connect you, resources to help turn your goals and dreams
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at least half believe that he cares about their needs and problems. what they don't like, though, his gun politics. more than half of all respondents disapproved of the way he handles gun policy, which includes new, tough restrictions on ammunition, firearm sales and background checks that went into effect on the first of july. has the federal government failed to enact gun reform laws after a shooting in a movie theater in aurora, colorado, and the shooting in newtown, connecticut, some states like colorado took action on the state level. but on tuesday, two of colorado's state senators who stood firmly behind that action, john morse and angela giron, were recalled from office. the national rifle association, as you might imagine, was thrilled. the statement read in part, "the people of colorado springs and pueblo sent a clear message to their elected officials that their primary job is to defend our rights and freedoms. they are accountable to their constituent, not the dollars or social engineering agendas of anti-gun billionaires." that last line there that was
directed at new york mayor michael bloomberg. now he's going to be fine, but what about the citizens of colorado or other states where lawmakers pay for their gun control votes with their jobs? joining the panel is rob wilcox, vice president of the board of directors of the new yorkers against gun violence, and our own host of "up" right here on msnbc steven kornacki. i want to start with the politics of this first and the idea these weren't people who were voted out in an election. it wasn't like there was the next election and constituents d didn't like it. that strikes me as democracy. but that they were recalled. should i be worried about the health of democracy when you can be recalled not for a scandal but for this? >> absolutely. not every state allows this, but there are a number of state, i think 17, that have recall mechanisms in place. this is something i think is a growing trend. somebody looked at the last hundred years of american politics. i think it's one-third of all the recalls that have taken place in that time have been the last three or four.
this is kind of accelerating. there are a lot of interest groups and about visit groups that see an opportunity here to deliver these kinds of messages. i think the risk of it is you can look at politicians around the country, democrats or even republicans who voted for gun control measures and they have not paid an electoral press for it, kept their job, been safe, tim kaine in virginia, nelson in florida. but logic and rational thinking doesn't always prevail in politics. the most -- >> that's the understatement of the -- >> it's the most traumatic recent political event. the risk for gun control advocates right now is that this becomes the most recent traumatic political event. and next time it's on the line in the state legislature or the senate, they bring back background checks, this is the thing people on the fence are thinking about. >> part of what i find surprising is that the deaths don't shift the political calculus. why is it that newton and aurora and the deaths that i just talked about before we came back from commercial, why don't they shift what constitutes the political calculus for ordinary citizens? >> i think it has, melissa, and
i think there's a couple lessons that come out of colorado and to be clear about what they are, what the colorado legislature passed was commonsense gun laws. they said we should have background checks when we sell guns so people who shouldn't have them don't get them. two of the worst mass shootings in the nation's history, they said we shouldn't allow magazines that can have more than 15 bullets. those were the two things they got recalled for. the message the nra has given out is if you stand for commonsense gun laws you'll be punished, but that's not what the data shows, not what the election says. i say that because this election does not show there was a massive opposition to commonsense gun laws, because let's take senator morse, for example, and both senators have simeone facts, but senator morse has 69,000 registered voters in his district. >> there's, what, 10,000 people who voted? >> 9,000 voted for recall. that's 13% of the registered voters. here's your headline for the colorado recall. it's not nra leads massive outright.
it's 13% of voters disagree with gun policy, vote to recall. that's a much different story, but that's the true story of this recall election. >> and yet the empowerment of that 13% to do the work of recall, so the thing is that that 13% may not hold sway if we have to go to the next election cycle and we have free and fair elections, so then they would have to make their case and get 50% plus one, how elections work. but when you have a recall, then, in fact, a highly motivated small group does have the ability to bring elected officials out of office. >> and this is why strategically speaking this is very smart of the nra, because they understood if we wait until the next election we have a greater likelihood of losing, but we know in american politics for people that have intense preferences around an issue, you can mobilize just a small number of those people that care intensely about one thing, and in this case it was 13% of that district, who the nra and others were able to mobilize to recall
those legislators. so, yes, is this a problem for democracy? yes. but there's a deeper issue here, about the incivility in american public cull which are that is the real threat to democracy. as friend of mine said last night to me, a very technical term, colorado is stupid. you can drink, you can smoke marijuana, and you can have guns. that is -- all at the same time. that is an ingredient mix for uncivil behavior, and that's what we're creating. when we talk about freedom, which the nra likes to talk about, there are always limits to freedom. >> mm-hmm. >> somebody's freedom is somebody else's injustice. right? that's what we see in terms of trayvon martin, for instance, in terms of the final consequence of that freedom is death for some. we set laws to govern our behavior for a reason because we don't leave it to everybody to always act civilly. sometimes governments have to set norms for all of us to be civil. >> so seriously, on this question of recall, and i want
to talk more about gun policy after commercial, but just the question of recall, i mean, are you troubled by the idea that legislators can be recalled not for moral or ethical breaches, not for stealing money -- i mean, those strike me as reasonable reasons to get someone out of office before the next election, but because of policy positions? >> they have it on the books. in my state, we don't. we don't have the recall mechanism in south carolina and a lot of the states i work on. when you look at the one issue, the governor had a 56% poll number there, the people of colorado were unhappy with his position. but let's move past all the polls and the fact that the president won one of those districts by 21 and the other by 19%. you're looking at the political structure, either you change the law on recalls or not when you come pack. what happens is the nra won because they're very good at one thing. they're very good at grassroots and mobilizing. that's the system. you won, the other side lost. what happened was for once an election the nra was outspent
but not totally because they've spent years and years building those databases. i'm a guy at one time said something was flooded by about 50,000 cards from nra members in south carolina. so they have an organization that's very impressive. it becomes a second amendment right. they put everything out there, but that's what they have and there are winners and losers. >> stay right there, because this idea of politics and there's winners and losers and as long as everybody's playing by the rules it's okay. i want to come back to trayvon martin or any elderly or young people dying because of guns and saying who are the real losers here. coming up, the real problem with recall efforts and how house majority leader eric cantor is leading the effort to take food from the mouths of children. has it's ups and downs.
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welcome back. i'm melissa harris-perry. last tuesday was an election day in many places, including colorado where two democrat state senators were recalled and replaced by two republicans. one of the ousted senators, john morse, told supporters on election night, "we made colorado safer from gun violence. if it cost me my political career, that's a small price to pay." both senators were recalled mostly due to their backing of colorado's tough new gun law which took effect in july. they were not recalled for scandal or alleged illegal activity, for implementing gun control legislation. only 38 recall elections have been held in the history of united states, and almost half of them since 2011 according to the national conference of state legislators. that was the quote from earlier. and in these colorado recall votes on tuesday the turnout was very, very low, especially compared to the 2010 election. only about 11,000 more voters cast ballots in morse's 2010
senate election and 10,000 more voted in state senator angela g giron's election. gun rights groups would argue they did so only to counter outside money from groups like mayors against illegal guns led by new york's mike bloomberg. cricks to morse and giron totaled roughly $3 million. bloomberg, meanwhile, offered up more than $300,000 to the anti-recall campaign. the nra itself contributed around $500,000 to the recall effort. but is the money what's wrong with our democracy? or recall efforts like these? back with me are rob wilcox of new yorkers guns gun violence, former south carolina republican chairman kate dawson, columbia professor dorian warren and the host of "up" steven kornacki. so how much did it cost citizens to have these recalls? i mean, what -- on the one hand, yes, there's money being spent by the new yorkers, but doesn't it also simply cost the
taxpayers to recall folks when they wouldn't normally have an election? >> absolutely. a massive amount of money. you've got to open polls, reelect people. it's a whole process that starts over again, and then you become singly focused. what the politicians saw was you become singly focused on every vote and every issue, while recalls are very, very testy here, because now every politician saw that. politicians obviously like to stay in office. so that at the end of the day, the politicians in colorado and neighboring states, especially recall states like you said earlier, just saw, well, i better be really careful at what i do. >> the other thing is there's an incentive here. i think this sort of disincentive -- the recall itself disincentivizes voter trs from paying the appropriate level of attention to normal elections because the job of the public and the job of the voter in elections is to be engaged, ask questions, scrutinize candidates, these are the issues i care about, i want to know what you think, if you're
elected, you're accountable. i can wait a year from now and if we don't like what the legislators are doing, we'll kick them out of office then. your job as a voter is to do that work during an election and you have to live with the consequences. one is you may have to wait four years to get the politician out you don't like. >> an appropriate lesson to draw from this recall, john morse shouldn't have made the vote he made. because if he is going to legislate for the 13% of people who recalled him, then he's legislating for a vocal minority. it's a -- >> so this is the uphill battle that folks in organizations like yours are fighting, because the signal, right, the signal that goes out to the electoral world right now is that pro-nra signal that regardless of that small turnout says if you take these kind of stances we're coming for you. and what i hear you pushing back is, no, no, your constituents really do want this gun control legislation, we can see that, we can see the popularity of it from the polls. and yet how do you push back against what is a clear
electoral signal here that it will make you vulnerable if you vote to support gun control legislation? >> i think it comes down to political courage. and john morse and senator giron both said we knew this was a possibility going in and we went forward with it. truthfully, when the colorado gun rights folks wanted to do a recall they wanted to recall everyone who voted for this legislation. and they got two people. and of those two people they got a tiny minority of those voters. so this is about get out the vote, voter awareness, and the question of are recalls based on a legislative vote a tool we want to encourage in our democracy or as john was saying is this something that really needs to be rarely used for high crimes and misdemeanors as you were pointing out for real betrayal of public trust because you committed a crime? >> dorian, it also seems to me, talking about american exceptionalism earlier, it seems it's about turnout and all that but also about an american exceptionalism around our guns. i live in louisiana and in new
orleans and -- which means that both the proximity of gun violence and gun ownership are very intimate to me. i see all of my neighbors are both worried about gun violence and own guns. right? how do we have a not just sort of mobilize voters but change the discourse around guns? >> i think it's changing, and i think your point earlier about who are the real losers here, the real losers are the people that lose their lives -- >> children. >> because of -- children in particular. go back to trayvon martin for a minute. there are all these doubts during the zimmerman trial about his personal character and behavior. in the same week as the recall election, we learn about zimmerman, he will use a gun against his own wife and inlaw when he becomes angry. >> he didn't fire the gun. i will say there's some question about that, but certainly there was a return of george zimmerman to the sort of public consciousness around whether or not he was menacing with a gun. >> yes. but the broader point is i want
to have a set of laws and norms where i don't have to worry about the george zimmermans of the world when the moment they get angry they decide to fire their weapon and somebody -- an innocent perp loses their life. we have to say, and i think this is what the two legislators in colorado said, we have to say we are putting the public good over your private freedom and interest. the public good is safety for all of us and our kids as well, over your right to be able to kill somebody because you think that's a definition of freedom. freedom is being able to walk the street and not have to worry about folks, whether they're george zimmerman, whether they're drunk, whether they're whatever, shooting me unnecessarily. >> steve, you know, it felt to me kind of coming out of our conversation around syria, part of how the president has been discussing syria and chemical weapons has to do with children and the loss of their lives and the sense of needing to set an international standard about the fact that we must make the world safe against this sort of indiscriminate violence that takes children's lives.
and part of the reason i respect that argument is because i respect that argument on the domestic front. i would also like to make the world that i live in in a very intimate way safe from indiscriminate violence that takes the lives of children. all those stories i told earlier, this is not chemical weapons, i get that, but in my hood you are much more likely to die from a stray bullet than from a chemical weapon attack. >> well, this may be the next big test for gun control on the political calendar. a few months from now will be the one-year anniversary of sandy hook and newtown. the talk, the plan at least before what happened in colorado this week, i don't know where it stands right now, but the talk had been the promoans of the background check, bill manchin wanted to bring it back up in the first week of december in the senate. around the one-year anniversary. to use that pressure and the sort of power of shaming. it's been a year, this chamber has not acted and here's your chance. and the question, though, is is how does something like -- think of how you -- from north dakota, this is one of the votes they would need, a democrat from a
pro gun state. how does she look at what happened in colorado this week and balance that? you'll have the pressure of all the stories of children from sandy hook balanced against what happened in colorado this week. she's somebody you're going to have to have weighing on the side of i want to do something on the one-year anniversary. that's the next test. >> in the one-year anniversary of newtown, can it shame legislators into passing it? >> no. >> why not? >> well, you're going to -- that argument again, and you just asked the question so i'll give an honest answer. in that argument again you'll bring criminals back up, the status of mental health in america back up again, and you're going to start decriminalizing certain -- certain groups in this argument. the -- you said it earlier, melissa, about your neighbors. they've got guns and they're impacted by gun violence, but they have the right to have their guns and they want them. they want them and they're going to keep them. and melissa perry has a gun. i have one. >> i've been very open about being a gun owner and having --
>> back to the basic argument again -- >> but i'd give it up. let me be clear. i'm a gun owner. i'm from a family of people who own guns, my father, and i've talked about this, as a black man, grew up in the jim crow south, believed he had to be armed. he taulght us how to use guns. >> had the right to have them. >> he hunted. but both my father and i don't need 15-round ammunitions, and i would be willing, if i believed in the credible capacity of, for example, my police force dad, i would be very much willing to give up gun ownership for the sense of public safety. right? i mean, that gun exists in my home because we feel that we live in a place that is so dangerous. those things are connected. >> and, you know, this isn't about whether you have the right to have a gun. it's about a background check. >> yeah. right. which i passed. >> a drive's license. you have to take a test. >> pull the background check out from the rhetoric and look at the poll numbers, i know people are not opposed to that. >> it gets filtered through the
political system. >> it gets filtered through the argument and we lose on the background checks because when you check that number you'll find out that's a reasonable argument. >> last word here. >> that's what manchin means about background checks. that's what the colorado law was about was background checks and the nra is able to subvert the argument to make it about more, taking guns away. i'm a gun owner and my family owns guns but we've lost a love one to gun violence. the person who shot my cousin should not have had a gun. if background checks could have worked she might be alive. if we're talking about background checks, like in the senate, the house, colorado, we should agree to move forward instead of having a recall election where 13% of the voting public, of minority, can scare our elected officials from doing the right thing, because our elected officials make history by doing the right thing and not just keeping their heads down and going with the flow. >> thank you, rob wilcox, caton dawson and steven kornacki, host of "up" which airs on saturdays
and sundays at 8:00 a.m. eastern time right before this show on msnbc. thank you all. stay right there because up next is my "letter of the week" to a pretty interesting guy. [ male announcer ] we took new febreze free with no perfume to prove the skeptics wrong. hi. are you karen? [ karen ] yes, i am you said in a focus group, "they just mask the smell." i'm going to ask you to find the smelliest item in your home. here. okay. [ laughs ] very, very strong dog odor. this is febreze free. it has no perfume. wow. now it smells clean, and it doesn't have an odor. you're welcome. [ male announcer ] odor elimination without masking. the proof is in every bottle of febreze fabric refresher. breathe happy. mayo? corn dogs? you are so outta here! aah! [ female announcer ] the complete balanced nutrition of great-tasting ensure. 24 vitamins and minerals, antioxidants, and 9 grams of protein. [ bottle ] ensure®. nutrition in charge™. [ bottle ] ensure®. this man is about to be the millionth customer. would you mind if i go ahead of you? instead we had someone go ahead of him
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pennachio pennachio . before i send my letter today, a word of warning to parents, this deals with adult themes. this week a scandal ripped through the hip-hop community when mr. c., a dae "d" jay on hot 97 and a foundational figure in the new york hip-hop scene resigned after admitting to sex with transgendered women. he quit not because he admitted to criminal activity because he felt the shaming and criticism based on his sexual practices would distract from his effectiveness as a deejay and harm the station. but the program director refused
to accept his resignation and that is why my letter this week goes to him. dear mr. darden, it's me, melissa. i'm writing to you as a lover of hip-hop music, a feminist, and an ally to lbgt communities. let me just say, you surprised me this week. i was warned just seven weeks after cool hurt threw that legendary party in the south bronx that started hip-hop. they're the soundtrack of my life. but with each passing decade it has been harder to love hip-hop when it seems so willing to hate me. as major corporations gained more control over the music, hip-hop became increasingly violent, vile, and sexist and your station, hot 97, has typically contributed to this trend rather than countering it. so i wasn't surprised when despite daily consumption of lyrics that gleefully described violence against women and give both passive and explicit support to rape culture much of the hip-hop community reacting with home phobia-fueled disgust
about mr. c.'s sex with transgendered women. i was surprised, mr. darden, when instead of joining the shame bandwagon you encouraged an open and human dialogue with c about the complicated realities of manhood, identity, and sexuality. these are conversations we're committed to having here on our show. so to the extent that c engages in illegal solicitation, those actions would of course be indefensible. but if c's sexuality is expressed with legal, adult, consenting actions, then it is wrong to shame him. and not just for c as an individual but more importantly because the current reaction is really about expressing disgust with transwomen and labeling them as freakish and abhorrent. friend and transabout visit janet mock wrote about the issue this week on her blog, saying "when a man can be shamed merely for interacting with a transwoman, what does this do to transwomen? the this pervasive ideology says that transwomen are shameful,
not worthy of being seen, and that transwomen must remain a secret, invisible and disposable. if a man dares to be seen with a transwomen, he will likely lose social capital so he must adamantly deny, vehemently demean, trash and/or exterminate the woman in question." mr. darden, when you intervene this week, you helped to interrupt this practice. for a moment, you made room to question this automatic reaction, a reaction that has life and death consequences for transwomen. you took a stance that wasn't easy or obviously commercial or even widely supported. in short, you demonstrated some real courage, and i want to pause and recognize that you did because it just might be the beginning of real change. now, speaking of changes, now that you ear getting a little practice at this kind of courage, how about changing some of the songs on your play list? sincerely, melissa. of getting something "new."
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47 million people. that's how many americans rely on the supplemental nutrition program, more commonly known as s.n.a.p. in 2012. more than 72% of those recipients are families with children, yet that doesn't seem to faze eric cantor. in july he and his fellow republicans took s.n.a.p. out of the farm bill and the reductions they're currently working on for the s.n.a.p. program are down right frightening. according to reports a s.n.a.p. proposal cantor is working on would cut the program nearly $40 billion in ten years, more than double what was blocked in june, and almost nine times the amount of the cuts in the senate-passed farm bill. the house proposal would deny s.n.a.p. between 4 million and 6 million low-income people and those people include destitute
adults, low-income kids, seniors and families that earn low wages. see how they work, they earn low wages? on top of all of that, there will be cutbacks regardless of the action congress chooses to take. temporary s.n.a.p. benefits that were part of the 2009 economic stimulus are set to expire on november 1st. just in time for the holidays. which amounts to a monthly decrease of nearly $36 for a family of four. and if you're not working, watch out. cantor's plan would allow states to cut off your s.n.a.p. benefits if you're not working nor a job training program for at least 20 hours a week. how's that for compassion and conservativism? at the table, margaret pervis, president and ceo of the food bank for new york city, sasha obransky, author of "the american way of poverty," professor dorian warren and monica potts, senior writer for the "american prospect." sasha, i want to start with you because i've been reading "the american way of poverty" all
week and one of the things you do is try to bring stories to the fore. >> yeah. >> you spend a lot of time telling us the stories of people living in poverty. as i watch eric cantor i think -- i want to say this on tv, i don't think he's a bad guy, but it does feel like he's somehow missing the stories that you are telling. how do we get these stories to be part of that conversation? >> i think you have to listen to people. one of the things that amazed me around the country, i talked to hundreds of people when i was writing the book, and the complexity, the diversity of the stories of poverty i think often time our political classes tend to think in stereotypes, so we think of the poorest, the undeserving as somehow morally at blame for their own poverty. it's absolute nonsense. there are people who work their whole lives, who lost their jobs. there are people who saved their money and then lost their houses when the housing crisis hit. there are people who didn't have health insurance because their jobs didn't pay for health insurance and they went bankrupt
when they had a medical emergency. and when you talk to these families and you realize that the only things stopping them from going to bed hungry at night is their food stamps, not thousands of dollars a month but a few hundred dollars a month that allows them to buy basic meals for themselves and their children, and then you think of the fact that 1 in 7 americans needs that assistance, that means that in every congressional district on average, there's about 100,000 people on food stamps. and the republicans are talking about absolutely ignoring the needs of all of those people. it's an extraordinary story. >> well, and i think part of what's so stunning to me is what a small percentage of our gdp -- so even if you cut them all, i mean, just made everyone hungry, did away with s.n.a.p., we, in fact, would not much improve the overall treasury. this is not a particularly expensive program, but it lifts people out of poverty. >> let me tell you, we're going to know the power of s.n.a.p. the moment any of these cuts go through. $40 billion is not a cut that
you can say belongs to those people. it will impact all of us. they have not just said things about this group. they've also apparently decided that charity will magically just rise to the challenge. >> so you're with the food bank. tell me about it, because part of what's happened here is also your ability to do your work has gotten harder. >> absolutely. first of all, to make it as clear as i could ever make it, we cannot make up for these cuts. food stamps really and truly make up the first line of defense. you want people to be able the to go to the grocery store. that is dignity. >> yeah. >> coming to a soup kitchen with your baby -- and mind you, there are 500,000 children coming to soup kitchens and pantries in new york city alone, more children than there are people living in miami. that's who we're feeding. so this is not something people are looking forward to. we're supposed to be the last stop, not the first. >> so, you know, my back and
forth, dorian, as i was reading sas sasha's text and the kind of compelling stories of poverty that feel like they're not people's fault, and yet as soon as we go to stories, then i can tell you the story about the welfare queen or the surfer guy or some other person who's doing bad things with food stamps, and i wonder about whether those narratives end up just balancing themselves out in the mind of someone like eric cantor who says, no, i think there's abuse and fraud. >> this is the other side of american exceptionalism we were talking about earlier. and this is how i think of american exceptionalism. we were exceptional among all rich democracies with the most amount of children in poverty weather the stingiest welfare state weather the notion that we can't be each other's dmeerp times of crisis. that's american exceptionalism. and we're out of line with the rest of the world. the irony here -- and i think this is a great organizing opportunity for progressives -- the highest rates of food stamp are in the reddest -- food stamps are in the reddest districts in america. and the reddest districts in
america. so if we are not talking to the folks in those districts about what their members of congress, what their representatives are doing, how it will affect their very live, we're missing a huge opportunity to transform this conversation. >> it's the question i asked earlier about guns and why, for example, newtown doesn't shift the political calculus. i guess i have the same question here. why doesn't the dissent of some of the middle class and working class into ti over the course of this great recession, why hasn't that shifted the political calculus? why aren't people saying now i'm part of the fore and i know those stereotypes are not accurate? >> one word -- shame. shame is the underbelly of struggle and poverty. it stays silent, we can ignore it because throughout this country we all know -- children know it, there has to be something wrong if you can't feed yourself. if you are having hard times, what did you do? that's the reality. in staten island, where many people think, oh, there's not a lot of poverty in staten island,
of course there's poverty in staten island. people have lost their homes to foreclosure trying to hold on to their homes. many of my member agencies tell me there are people who used to write me checks who now send their kids in to get food. >> you write a lot about the shaming. you say there are rituals of consumption that are part of the american process, going to see a movie, having a coffee with your friends, and that this descent into poverty means they're shut out of these rituals. >> that's absolutely right. when i was talking to people, one of the things that struck me was there was am existential loneliness to their stories. these are people who plooifs had income, not destitute. they were used to not thinking too hard about going to a cafe and buying a coffee, talking to a friend. now they're counting every penny i spend. if i buy dinner tonight, i won't p able to fill my child's prescription. should i let my telephone bill
go unpaid? or should i fill my car with gas because it's gone up a dollar a gallon and i can't afford to drive to work? when you have those kind of choices in your life, you can't afford to participate publicly so you shrivel back into yourselves. the voices when i talk to people, that sort of sense of collapse psychologically, i found it such a sad story. >> sad on the one hand, but also when i heard you say you withdraw from public life, that also sounds like it becomes more difficult to become engaged politically. i'm going to keep everybody right here. we'll keep talking about this question of poverty and hunger but also the issue of homelessness, the idea of buying the homeless a one-way ticket out of town. talk about shaming. stay with us. ♪
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people experience homelessnd. 22.1% of that group are children. 13% are veterans. 42.6% are disabled and not able to work. sequestration is hurting this group big time as more than 100,000 homeless and formerly homeless people will be removed from hud programs because of budget cuts. it's not just the federal government that's to blame here. officials in several states are also putting pressure on the homeless. san francisco is suing nevada for allegedly putting poor and homeless patients with mental issues on to buses with a one-way ticket to california and other states, and instructing them to seek care there. in raleigh, north carolina, a faith-based charity says it was threatened with arrest for trying to pass out food to homeless people within a city park. a federal court had to tell the state of michigan in a decision that they could no longer throw homeless people in jail for begging because it violated their first amendment rights.
in miami, city leaders are asking a federal court to roll back the rights of the homeless and in an effort to remove 500 chronically homeless people from the business district, the city wants the miami-dade homeless trust to spend up to $13 million on hundreds of new bed. the chairman of the homeless trusts rejects the idea arguing overnight shelter beds are only a temporary solution. in addition to having no place to go, there's been an increase in violence independence the homeless according to a recent survey conducted in south florida, 4 in 10 homeless men and 3 in 10 homeless women have been victims of the violence since living on the streets. for me, the confluence of the story about food stamps and the extent to which poor families now have to spend more money on the basic necessity of food and the realities of homelessness come together. they're kind of a perfect storm of poverty. >> that's right. i think one of the things we talk about when we talk about shame is we have to remember
families wait till the last possible minute to seek help so families in shelters, living on the streets, they've really exercised the last of their options, borrowed food and money from friends and family. the people who are being kicked out of shelters have no other options. >> we go to question of stories. the shame piece, the idea it's fundamentally shameful and as we see here fundamentally dangerous, how then do we take that part of the story, couch surfing, staying with your cousin, with your sister, finally finding yourself and your children in a homeless shelter, how do we get that to penetrate policy making? >> you know what, i'm not sure because the stereotype of who is homeless and the stereotype of who is poor in america has been so ingrained. so i spent a lot of time in poor communities around the country, and people who are very poor people who are homeless don't call themselves that. they don't realize they're poor. they won't call themselves homeless. they'll say they're still looking for a house. so even they don't always recognize it. i think that's a big hurdle.
>> i think for me the other thing that is critical in our part, sasha, and moving forward, the number of people who are working and poor. those looking at s.n.a.p. households, those getting the supplemental nutritional benefits, working-annal, nondisabled adults, they have a high work rate so those employed within the past year 87% of households where people receive s.n.a.p. assistance have people who have worked in the past year. you know, this idea that people can, in fact, be in poverty potentially even be homeless and yet be workers, that does feel like a violation of the american dream. >> it absolutely is. and i think that for so much of this it's important that we all understand that typically what we're hearing are just a bunch of notes that are built on like a mountain of myths. it just simply is not true. and on some levels it also makes us all feel a little bit better. >> yes, because why do we have to shame other people so we feel
about the decision wes made? >> at least that's not me. let me tell you something, average american does not have enough savings to ensure that s.n.a.p., homelessness is not necessarily in your future. you don't know that. >> you're one illness, one divorce away from -- >> one missed child support payment. >> yep. >> happens a lot to women. from being in line at a pantry in a desperate situation. >> your book also focuses clearly on some solutions. when you look at the kinds of policies that we see affecting the homeless or the congressional policies around nutritional assistance, what do you see as some of our key solutions? >> i think, first of all, it's important to broaden the conversation. if we just think about it as poverty, we're in a sense truncating the discussion because this is a crisis triggered not by lack of resources but by a stunning change in the way our economy and society functions. it's about the rise of a level of inequality that hasn't been toll rated in this country for a century.
>> mm-hmm. >> so we've had a tremendous amount of resources flow up the process and at the same time a tremendous amount of resources taken away from people at the bottom of the economic ladder. so if we're going to have solutions, first of all, we have to have political discussion about what levels of inequality are appropriate in a democracy. >> mm-hmm. >> but then in terms of specifics, for housing, for example, a lot of people lost their houses because of the mortgage crisis about four or five years ago. one of the most interesting solutions that i encountered was community credit unions in boston and elsewhere where they're going in, they're buying the distressed properties back off of the banks, then they're reselling them to homeowners at a more reasonable price with a more reasonable mortgage, a creative solution. >> in california they're using eminent domain to go in, take these properties but not for the purpose of putting up commercial properties but in fact to sell them back to -- >> it makes me sort of wonder when i hear republican leadership in congress spending all this energy beating up on poor people, beating up on people on food stamps, belting
up on people trying to get health care. how about putting that same energy into a federal program to maybe buy back distressed properties and use them like the federal government to creatively keep people in housing? how about using the might of the federal government to fiend ways to get low-income kids fed properly instead of find weighs to take them away and criminalize their poverty? lots can be done but the effort isn't there. >> stay with us. one more story i want to tell when we come back. one more group and not group you might think whose life expectancy going down. that's according to a report by one of my guests. ♪ [ male announcer ] 1.21 gigawatts. today, that's easy. ge is revolutionizing power. supercharging turbines with advanced hardware and innovative software. using data predictively to help power entire cities. so the turbines of today... will power us all... into the future. ♪
how old is the oldest person you've known? we gave people a sticker and had them show us. we learned a lot of us have known someone who's lived well into their 90s. and that's a great thing. but even though we're living longer, one thing that hasn't changed much is the official retirement age. ♪ the question is how do you make sure you have the money you need to enjoy all of these years. ♪
his day of coaching begins with knee pain, when... [ man ] hey, brad, want to trade the all-day relief of two aleve for six tylenol? what's the catch? there's no catch. you want me to give up my two aleve for six tylenol? no. for my knee pain, nothing beats my aleve. the conversation around those living below the poverty line often centers around communities of color. yet a new article from the american prospect entitled "what's killing poor white women?" shows that poverty is color blind and questions that on the rise for the morality for -- the mortality for poor uneducated white women. the article cites a study on
longevity conducted by a team of researchers at the university of illinois, chicago, and one of their key find sgs over the past 18 years life expectancy for white women who don't graduate from high school has decreased by five years. that means they're dying earlier than the generation before them. the cause for this? no one knows for certain. but one thing is for sure. living in poverty with a lack of access to health care, quality education, and living wages certainly isn't helping. i just found the piece riveting in part because it does challenge our expectation that the question of poverty and even of premature death is primarily racialized towards blackness and brownness. what did you learn in writing this piece and researching it? >> sure. you know, i spent a lot of time in arkansas and one of the things i learned is that, you know, this is a community in which people don't think of themselves as poor. they don't think of themselves as needing to sort of gather together to talk about what's happening to them, so they're really just devastated. there's really -- there are no jobs in these areas.
the women especiallily are isolated from other women, they're isolated from people who aren't their families and they spend most of their lives as caregivers. that's what i learned. by and large for every member of every group and every race that doesn't graduate from high school the past 18 years have been devastating. there are no jobs for them. the jobs available to them don't pay very well. they're really not worth it. they don't provide a ladder into the middle class. and something about that, something about not having hope for your own future maybe is shortening life span. >> dorian, i feel like that story, that story about decreasing life spans among white women who haven't finished high school, often therefore living in poverty, and this story about a great shift in our economy ought to also then be this story about well, and so now our politics begins to change because there will be cross racial alliances that are economically based and the great class-based movement that we have never seen in the u.s. will emerge, and yet when you say, oh, yes, i was -- i keep thinking, yeah, and they don't -- and quite folks and black folks and latinos who are
living in poverty don't necessarily see and aren't capable of building alliances together. are there some sort of solutions politically? >> again, i think this is a key moment, it's a key organizing moment that we have to take advantage of. sasha's right. this is not unrelated from inequality. we learned this week that in 2012 the top 10% of americans took home 50% of national income, the highest ever recorded in our history. that is not inevitable. poverty is not inevitable. homeless is not inevitable, even though people internalize it as if some forces are acting on me and i can't do anything about it. so the politics has to be first a conversation that, no, actually we can. i just saw this great film -- >> no, actually, we can. >> we can change it. former secretary of labor robert reich has this new film coming out called "inequality for all, "and he makes the point that the economy is nothing but a bunch of rules that we write. and if it really is a bunch of rules we write, we can rewrite rules to take the economy
different, to make it work for everyone, to make a difference. we can create something different. >> it's not just the thing -- >> inequality kills. that's what we're learning. are we going to tolerate that as a society? or can we organize people to understand, no, you have a voice in how we write the rules of the economy and how we twrite the rules of our democracy? we can extend people's lives, not decrease them. >> can i jump in? this discussion of inequality is about tied in with a discussion about scarcity. for many years a part of the political process is we can't afford to help the poor, can't afford houses -- yeah. now the analogy is greece. we're like greece. we're bankrupt. we're not. every dollar they're getting from the european union and the monetary fund. we have loads of resources in this country. we're the wealthiest country in the world. we don't have the political will to use those resources effectively to create these programs. so we're not a country suffering
from a disease like cancer that's corroding us from within. we're suffering from anorexia. we're choosing to self-starve our public infrastructure. that's a crazy way of doing politics because it makes for a crazy way of doing economics, and millions of people suffer. >> i actually think we're not even quite anorexic as bulemic because we gorge and overfeed, for example, the very top, right. your point about inequality. part of the inequality isn't sort of because there was this group of people who were working harder. right. it's because we created a set of policies that gorge one group and starve the other. >> it starts -- 80% of the public now, 80% of adults now will spend some of their lives food insecure or jobless or poor and relying on public assistance. so it's really widespread now. the bottom half is more than half. and so that's another thing that maybe the more that happens the more people will realize there are political solutions. >> and yet somehow that claim, that sort of -- the more devastating the inequality, the
more likely people will be to rise up does seem to counter the empirical reality of the world in which, in fact, people live under crushing poverty in much -- i wonder if there's a particular aspect, for example, via the american narrative and the belief americans are supposed to be class mobile that might provide a basis for that -- >> the interesting thing about the article, because if you think about the regions where you interviewed people, you think about the data that show that it's especially in the south and in many rural areas, you map that onto the decline ain social moebility and we know its in stout and particular region where is you have less of a chance of moving from the poor to the middle class, you combine all that, that's a very powerful set of facts right now, lower likelihood of moving up to the middle class, higher likelihood of premature death. again, these are choices we have made to structure our economy and our politics a certain way, and because they're choices we've made, we can make different choices --
>> yeah, we don't have to vote in republican governors who refuse to bring up -- you know, set up obama care exchanges and take the medicaid expansion. you could make a different choice.sasha, dorian, and monica, thank you for being here. now here's a fun fact. tomorrow is the first day of national hispanic heritage month. i know it's the middle of the month. it doesn't start till the middle of september and goes till the middle of october. we've got a foot soldier of the week in honor of that. not all food choices add up. some are giant. some not so giant. when managing your weight, bigger is always better. ♪ ho ho ho ♪ green giant ♪ ho ho ho this man is about to be the millionth customer. would you mind if i go ahead of you? instead we had someone go ahead of him and win fifty thousand dollars. congratulations you are our one millionth customer. nobody likes to miss out.
this morning, we've been talking about the growing challenges facing the poor. and in a new nbc news/"wall street journal" poll, we learned 39% of people who describe themselves as poor working class say they don't expect to make it into the middle class within the next five to seven years. not only are some people losing ground, they are losing hope. and that's why this week's food soldier is someone trying to turn that around, instead of
getting depressed oef sticks, she got busy. our foot solder this week is rosie mole narey. in 2007 while promoting her book beauty, body image and growing up latina, rosie was able to speak to dozens of latinas in high school and found they had big dreams of attending college or becoming professionals but lacked support to make their dreams come true. she was also mindful of the daunting statistic that more than half of hala tino children do not graduate from high school. that's why in 2008, rosie founded circle deluz, spanish for light. the work begins working with latinas in seventh grade and follows them through high school graduation. the girls are chosen through teacher nominations and interviews and upon graduation they receive a $5,000 scholarship. the funds are raised by women who agree to contribute at least $100 a year for each year the
girls are in the program by growing a giving circle of women for women. but the girls get something much more valuable than just the money. they also get a lifeline in the form of mentors who not only provide academic support but also try to expose the girls to as many new opportunities as possible. from the arts and culture to life skills like cooking, knew frigs are, health and wellness and so much more. there are 15 girls currently enrolled. at the end of october, they will add six more bringing the total to 281 girls in the program. as we prepare to mark the start of national hispanic heritage month tomorrow, we salute the young women who are creating their own circles of light. for being a beacon of hope, rosie molinari is our foot soldier of the week. that's our show for today. thanks to you at home for watching. i'll see you tomorrow 10:00 a.m. eastern. >> soledad o'brien will sit at the panel here. we're going to have a show focused on anniversaries. the five-year anniversary of the
collapse of lehman and the 50th anniversary of the bombing in birmingham. now it's time for a preview of weekends with alex witt. >> everyone, a developing story from geneva. a deal has been reaped on syria's chemical weapons. the big question, is it realistic that the country would turn over its entire stockpile? also, a newly wed admits to pushing her husband off a cliff days after her wedding. why isn't she behind bars today? my conversationing with liberal fire brand joe conizan, he tells me why he did not drink the cool wade. and in hawaii, a molasses spill is having a devastating effect. why is the sludge creating so much attributable? don't go anywhere. but going back to school is hard... because you work. now, capella university offers a revolutionary new way to get your degree. it's called flexpath and it's the most direct path, leveraging what you've learned on the job
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no two people have the same financial goals. pnc investments works with you to understand yours and helps plan for your retirement. talk to a pnc investments financial advisor today. ♪ >> the done deal. the u.s. and russia agree on getting rid of syria's chemical weapons. but is that a realistic goal and is military action now off the ta